Remember last year’s office holiday party and the account executive who got drunk and ended up making out with the college kid from the mail room?
(Please tell me that wasn’t you…)
Well, it’s that time of year again and while holiday office parties can be a wonderful time to loosen up a bit and interact with your co-workers in a more festive and social atmosphere; it can also be a bit tricky to navigate the balance between having fun and maintaining your professional reputation (not to mention dignity).
In order to ensure that you aren’t the one making a fool of yourself at this year’s office party, follow these simple etiquette guidelines for a FabYOUlously festive (but not career ending) holiday season. In fact, these tips might just help you to impress your higher-ups and make a positive impression upon the influential decision makers within your company.
Holiday Office Party Do’s and Don’ts
-DO attend the holiday party. You may think that attendance is optional, but your absence will be noticed. Social business events are wonderful opportunities for you to show off your polished social skills and mingle with upper management. Don’t miss out on this chance to have fun, make a good impression and be seen.
-DO think about the kind of impression that you want to make. The way that you present yourself to others, how you look, how you carry yourself and how you treat other people will all form the impression that you leave on others–make sure that it is a positive one.
-DO make an entrance. No, you do not need to come riding in on a fiery steed nor do trumpets need to announce your arrival. Still, your entrance is your first opportunity to make a good impression. Be sure that you enter the room with confidence, authority and a smile on your face.
-DO dress appropriately. Sure, your thigh high boots, fishnet stockings and sequined micro-mini might be perfect for a New Year’s Eve bash with your girlfriends (or not) but it probably isn’t the best attire for your office holiday party. Make sure that you know the type of party that you are attending so that you can select your outfit accordingly. For social business functions, it is always better to play it safe and err on the conservative side with an outfit that is fashionable but not too revealing.
-DON’T bring a guest unless the invitation specifically indicates that guests are welcome. If in doubt, ask the party host if guests are included.
-DO wear your name badge if everyone else is wearing theirs (and remember–it goes on your right side). This might not be necessary if you have a small, well acquainted office but can be very beneficial for larger gatherings.
-DO shake hands, smile and maintain a comfortable level of eye contact (no creepy staring!) These gestures are just as important at a social function as they are in a strictly professional setting.
-DON’T gorge yourself on food and drink. Instead, eat a quick bite before arriving at the party so that you’ll be energized and more able to focus on socializing rather than on stuffing your face. Certainly feel free to enjoy the food and beverages at the party, but again–moderation is the key. No running to the front of the food line and piling your plate so high that those behind you are left with crumbs.
-DO carry your beverage in your left hand. This leaves your right hand free for handshakes and ensures that it won’t be cold or damp.
-DO enjoy alcoholic beverages IN MODERATION. Social events like holiday parties are where managers get to see their employees’ true colors. Drinking too much can be counterproductive to your professional ambitions. DO NOT be the embarrassing drunk that everyone is gossiping about the next day.
-DO keep the conversations light, positive and non-controversial. This is not the time to complain to your boss about your co-workers or to your co-workers about your boss. Instead, chat about things like community events, current culture, books, movies, sporting events etc.
-DON’T forget about your guest. If you bring your spouse, friend or significant other to the party, they will not be familiar with the office dynamics, culture or personalities. Help them to feel involved by introducing them to others with whom they have something in common.
-DO eat or speak. Do NOT try to do both at the same time.
-DON’T only hang out with the people that you already know well. Make a point of meeting three new people. Once you meet them, try to find three things that you have in common with them. This three/three strategy is one that I use regularly and over the years it has brought me unexpected professional benefits. People like people with whom they share common interests.
-DON’T go overboard on the self-promotion. If you are in the running for a promotion or are trying to leverage a raise, the holiday party is not the time to corner your supervisor and blast them with all of the reasons as to why you deserve the new position or salary. Instead, let your behavior at the party and the way you present yourself to everyone in attendance speak on your behalf.
-DO leave your cell phone in your pocket or purse. Don’t take a call unless it is a true emergency. If you absolutely must take a call, leave the room and find someplace private to talk.
-DON’T take photos of your colleagues without asking for their permission to do so. If they give you consent to take the photos, don’t assume that that means that you also have their permission to post them on Facebook. Be respectful of people’s privacy.
-DO be sure to thank the host before leaving the party, or write and mail a thank you note the day after the party. You’ll also want to make sure that you follow up in a timely manner with any contacts that you made at the event.
Holiday office parties truly can be an enjoyable opportunity to become better acquainted with your colleagues and supervisors. Following these simple tips will help to ensure that you have a FabYOUlously festive time and make a favorable impression on those whose opinions matter to your career.